Tarte au Chocolat

2:27 PM

It is just past the middle of March and my air conditioner is on. This saddens me. I  find myself inexplicably depressed with the lengthening days, budding flowers, warming afternoons...I have no rational explanation for this, except that I really really love winter and my soul yearns for what it did not get this year.

I realize I am possibly the only person around feeling this way.  There may be others who enjoy winter and wish they'd experienced one, but most of them push past that and get really into SPRING! I was happy last Spring because with it came my second son, Dorien. I had that to look forward to! But this year, I really just want to sleep. Reverse hibernation. I am sad that an endless summer looms ahead of me. When it's high 80's the first days of March, that does NOT bode well for what lies ahead this summer. In spite of the gorgeous dogwoods budding in my front yard and exploding white snowball bushes at my gate and fragrant purple wisteria blooming on my trees not to mention my personal favorite - the unfolding crimson leaves of my Japanese maples, like origami magically performing...I am down.

This could be influenced by a marked lack of sleep I've experienced the past week.  August has pneumonia. We found this out yesterday at a doctor's appointment after the Lord prompted me to wake up at 3am Wednesday morning to find my son burning up with a fever of 105. It was enough to jumpstart the most asleep of us. Kyle and I (accompanied by a very confused, but amiable Dorien) were awake from 3-7 working to get August cooled down and figure out what was wrong. Pneumonia. That's what was wrong. And although he's now on antibiotics, it takes a bit to work and so last night was another night of super high fevers and cool baths and a wailing, miserable son who just wanted to be left alone.  

And even though the kids and I didn't really get moving around till 10, that was not enough sleep. My eyes are bloodshot and gunky from sleeping in my contacts and my brain slightly dull. I have ahead of me a weekend of planting seeds with my brothers for our veggie co-op and I'm nervous that this whole thing may flop royally. That Michael's flower beds may end up being large plots of jalapenos and nothing else. So, when I find myself slipping into a funk, I turn to something that always makes me feel better.  


I intend to share with you a recipe I recently tried and seriously loved. There is nothing healthy about it, other than chocolate's natural benefits. It is quite simply, perfection. For this recipe, I call on two of my French cookbooks: 

The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook

The bulk of the recipe comes from this, but I used the C&Z book to make the crust, or Pate Brisee.

Chocolate & Zucchini

To make the Chocolate Tart, you need something to hold all that lovely chocolate: a crust. So we'll start with that, because you can make this in advance and freeze it.

You can use a store-bought crust for a 9-inch pie, but I rarely ever use a store-bought crust. I love making my own. So I turned to the Pate Brisee, or Short Pastry, recipe in C&Z. Simple and Delicious.

Pate Brisee or Short Pastry

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tbsp. (1 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
ice-cold water

To make:
You can either use a food processor or mix it by hand. I highly recommend a food processor as it takes no time at all. So my instructions are for that...

Combine flour, salt and butter in the processor. Process at low speed for about 10 seconds, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and mix again for a few seconds until dough comes together a little. If the dough is still dry, add a little ice-cold water 1 tsp at a time and process again. You do not want too much water- this is not supposed to be wet dough. It should JUST come together and hold itself into a ball when you form it into one.

Wrap the ball of dough in a sheet of Saran Wrap and then smash lightly down with the palm of your hand on the ball, so it becomes a slightly flattened ball. Stick it in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or up to a day). After it's cooled (you're re-chilling the butter that's melted), let it soften enough to roll out. Although I left my dough in the fridge overnight and then immediately rolled it out the next morning, no waiting, and it wasn't that difficult.

Sprinkle flour on a work surface and on your rolling pin and place the slightly flattened ball of dough on your work surface. Roll the pin over the dough 2 or 3 times with moderate pressure. Rotate the dough by a quarter of a turn clockwise and roll the pin over it 2 or 3 times. Repeat until you have a circle large enough to line your tart pan or pie pan.

Now, on to the main recipe:
--makes one 9-inch tart--

Tarte Au Chocolat

1 recipe pate brisee or pie dough for 9 inch pie
6 oz. dark chocolate (70 to 80% cacao preferred), chopped
1/3 cup 2% or whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp sugar
4 egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Line a 9-inch tart pan with the pastry dough. Prick the bottom of the  dough with a fork and cover the dough with foil, crimping the foil over the edges of the mold. Add pie weights (dried beans or pellets --I have a container of dried chickpeas that I use over and over for this purpose) and bake for 10 minutes.  (instructions continued...)

This is what that looks like.

After the 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and cook another 5 minutes or until tart shell is lightly golden. The above picture shows the dough at the end of the 10 minutes, right after the foil was removed.

Here is the lightly  golden crust. Let it cool while you work on the chocolate part.

3. Lower the oven temp to 275 degrees now that the tart shell has par-baked.

Place the chocolate in a double boiler insert set above simmering water over medium heat and melt, stirring occasionally. 

--I used a mixture of chocolate in my recipe...adding up to 6 ounces (2 ounces of Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate, 2 ounces of Girhardelli's Bittersweet chocolate and 2 ounces of Nestle's semi-sweet chips). This was simply out of necessity, but it worked great!--

4. Meanwhile, place the milk, cream and sugar in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar.  

 Here's my 1/3 cup of milk...

1/3 cup of heavy cream... 

 And sugar!

 Remove from the heat and add the milk cream mixture to the melted chocolate, stirring until smooth. (it is very glossy)

Set aside for a moment and allow to cool a bit before whisking in the egg yolks. So, here they are, added in. (save the egg whites and make yourself a healthy egg white omelet to balance out all this chocolate. It's all about balance, you see.)

5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart shell and bake for 20 minutes or until the filling is just set.

20 minutes later! 
I confess I wavered when it came time to pull it out...was it ready?? But I took her at her word "just set" and even though it looked barely set, it was perfect. The consistency was silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth goodness that I can only say was DIVINE.

Cool it off before unmolding and serving. 

Try not to eat the whole thing yourself. Especially when the Spring Time Blues have you down!

p.s. I apologize for the non-glamorous cooking photography. One of these days I'll sit down and go through some PW tutorials on photographing food. Till then, this is whatcha get!

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  1. So sorry that August is sick! That is rough. Thank goodness for chocolate (and coffee). That helps a mama get through the day. I hope things are improving over there! Oh, and that recipe looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ashley, I am so sorry that August has been sick. I always hated when the high fevers would hit--my daughter is the one who seems to be hit with them whenever she gets strep throat. Your chocolate tarte looks divine--I will definitely be trying it out:-) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  3. It looks amazing. I am sorry that you are feeling down and hope that maybe spring and most definitely the Lord will be able to work that out of you. Thanks for the recipe, and I hope August gets all better soon!

  4. I hopped up and made this, it was reeeeaaaally tasty! I feel the same way about summer. Especially since we'll be here for all of it....